VRN A0026600C
ARBN 081 355 722
ABN 74 766 293 648


August 2008

Marc Walters

The 2007/2008 period has been a difficult time for APANA with all regions seeing a slow but steady decrease in membership and erosion of the base of technically skilled members who can be called upon to maintain equipment and provide advice to others. These problems caused by these losses have been alleviated to some extent by rationalisation of equipment and services within the regions. The decreasing membership has, as in previous years, resulted in a reduction of new ideas, projects, and general enthusiasm. A key factor in the rescue of the organisation's declining fortunes has been the willingness of regional administrations to make hard decisions, including the "outsourcing" of dial-up connection services to an external provider and upgrading outdated hardware.
The financial situation has improved due to cost-cutting and rationalisations within the regions. As always, we must recognise that all organisations change throughout their lifetime along with the changing requirements and aspirations of their membership, and that APANA is no different.

APANA continues to be an organisation boasting an efficient structure with a core of dedicated executives and general membership. The improved financial and network situations  will allow us to look ahead to the future with more renewed confidence.

The key tasks in the immediate future as I see them are:

1.    Improve financial stability and security
2.    Ensure the relevance of the organisation's services and goals for existing and potential new members
3.    Consolidate equipment, services, procedures and organisational knowledge to minimalise losses and reduce
       workload on existing technical and executive members
4.    Increase membership levels

Marc Walters
President, APANA

Jeffrey Toll

August 2008
July 2007
*ACT region closed due to insufficient members.

The period of 2007-2008 has seen APANA membership fall by 26 members with most losses occurring in the larger regions of South Australia, Hunter and Brisbane. Minor losses occurred in Sydney, Melbourne, ICR and ACT. Perth, incredibly recorded an increase.

Whilst a loss of members is unfortunate, it should be pointed out that this years loss is much smaller when compared to losses of previous years. This wasn’t entirely unexpected as the number of dialup users continuing to migrate to commercial broadband operators also slowed, hence those users still using APANA dialups are either satisfied with the service or have no need for a broadband connection. The coming year will most probably see further loss of members, albeit at a declining rate.

As of yet, APANA still has not determined a future direction for the organization, given that the services offered by APANA are in very little demand these days by the general public. APANA simply cannot compete against commercial operators in terms of service and price for provision of internet services. This has been mentioned many times in previous reports and at Management Committee meetings.

Finding a future direction for APANA is not easy. As this is a not for profit user group, we must find a niche to operate out of. The existence of the internet in general has greatly diminished the need for many internet and computer user groups, as there is so much free information available on the net, there seems little point in people joining a user group to exchange information.

Although, the Management Committee has discussed several possible ideas in the past, nothing has been implemented for various reasons. But we must still keep ideas flowing as well as looking for unmet needs that may be developed and incorporated into APANA.

In the mean time, APANA will need to carefully watch its financial situation as further reductions in membership will mean equipment expenses (electricity, main links etc) will need to be carefully monitored and operations will need to become more efficient.

Carolyn Baird

This past financial year APANA has managed to reverse the trend of previous years recording a substantial surplus for the first time in many years.  That this happened in a climate of continued membership losses is surprising but is substantially due to the demise of the 'let's wait and see' attitude at both the Management and Regional Committees levels.  In the past, these committees appeared to be reluctant to reach a decision or implement changes before sorting out every minor detail which often delayed any action being taken before substantial losses had been incurred.  Fortunately, for APANA that didn't happen this past year and all regions are to be commended for their prompt attention and action to all problems as they occurred.

There were a number of events that occurred during the course of the year that have aided our financial situation considerably.  The most notable of these was the relocation of South Australia's hub; the cancellation of the National BPay service; cancellation of the AGM travel allowance for Management Committee members; the reduction of the number of ports leased from ECN and the migration of the majority of Hunter Region's dialup members to the ECN Ports which allowed most of the region's phone lines to be disconnected and benefited all other regions using those ports by reducing their share of the port costs.

With the exception of Brisbane and Perth, all regions recorded a surplus for the year.  However, Perth and Brisbane's deficits were both less than $100 which I consider reasonable as it represents less than the loss of one full fee-paying member in each region.

In the past year, there were only six new members.  Of those three joined Hunter; two joined SA and one for Perth.  APANA lost 39 members in total during the past financial year - nine of those were lost in the first month.  Perth was the only region which didn't lose any members over the course of the year while Brisbane and Hunter lost 11 members each although Brisbane's were all access members while Hunter's were mainly APANA members only.

Officially, ACT is now a 'non-region' with no income and no expenditure and less than the required number of members to form a region.  The only reason it still appears is due to its substantial remaining balance - no decision has been made as yet regarding the reallocation of these funds.

Having at last completed what can only be considered a financially successful year and while I am still optimistic about APANA's financial future, the continued decrease in membership remains a constant cause for concern and this needs to be addressed by every region and its members as the future of the current services that APANA is able to  offer depends on having stable membership levels.  


Pauline Sheppard

Brisbane has had a relatively quiet year with only one or two outages that caused problems for dialup members over a short period of time.  This was helped by our authentications being processed through Odyssey, with the National machine for backup.

The number of dialup members has dropped and this is a sign of the times and perhaps something to reflect on.  Many ISP's are not offering this service so it stands to reason that those people still wanting a dialup service will probably stay with APANA as there are few other places to go.  However, the sign of the times is that ADSL and Wireless are taking over, people preferring a faster, more efficient service and 24/7 connectivity.  We need to be more competitive in this market and obviously cannot compete with larger companies that can offer 'cheap' bundling of services.  However, many do not realise that this 'cheap' service is, in fact, not cheap as we all know that the user pays one way or the other; however, this fact often eludes people looking for a cheap connection, making it impossible for us to compete in the market.  However, APANA do offer a service that others don't, having the ability to provide static IP's, shell accounts, a dialup service, the ability to access your Internet anywhere within Australia, and ADSL, ISD and Wireless connections.  On top of this we also have a team of interested people who are all experts in their field willing to help even the most inexperienced with any problem.

Brisbane currently only has three RC Members, being Doug Young, Peter Barlin and myself.  This is a huge problem in that we don't have the manpower to fix problems as and when they arise, or to answer emails in a professional and timely manner.  Lack of interest in joining the committee from our members has been a long-term problem.  Almost all our members join for the convenience and cheaper Internet connection and do not have an interest in either being on the committee or attending social functions.  This is a huge worry because, as we
know, people's interests change, as do their lives, and people move on.  Thus, should anyone leave the current BRC, there is no one to take their place.

Our finances are still in the red but we are very slowly and surely closing the gap. This has been helped by some other regions sub-letting ECN ports off us and also cancelling some ports which has lowered our costs.  However, it would be nice to get some new members, which we have not had for a very long time, to offset the costs and to get rid of our debt.

Our thanks go to the National Regional Committee for all their support and help over the past 12 months, which has been very much appreciated.  In particular I would like to thank Carolyn Baird, Jeff Toll, Steve Fraser and Dean Hollister.

Brisbane looks forward to a good year for 2008-2009.

Pauline Sheppard
Deputy Regional Co-ordinator & Regional Finance Officer
Brisbane APANA

Hunter Region:
Helen Donaldson

Hunter has been fairly quiet this year. Regrettably, Hunter has lost several members. Although some new members were gained, these gains were in insufficient numbers to offset the region's losses. The majority of members that Hunter has lost were APANA members only, so this did not impact significantly on Hunter's financial situation until the later months of this year. We have now reached the point where Hunter's lost members have affected the region's finances, and the decision was made to migrate as many of our remaining members to the ECN dial-ups as possible, so that the number of Hunter's dial-in lines could be reduced.

There are three reasons for taking this course of action:

1. To assist other regions in turn by sharing the port costs.
2. To reduce expenditure on Hunter's own lines.
3. To save costs on hardware replacement, as the majority of Hunter's modems have lasted beyond their life expectancy.

At the beginning of this year, Hunter had a number of problems with their network machines. This was rectified when a number of machines were donated to the region. Some income was gained from computer repairs, however the amount gained is lower than that of the previous year. At this point in time, our primary concern involves the consolidation of Hunter's network machines, so as to reduce electricity maintenance costs.

Though Hunter is still a viable region, recent concerns have caused problems for both its members and management. There will be opportunities throughout the current year to boost income for the region via computer repairs, and we can only hope that this will be enough to keep the Hunter region afloat in spite of member losses.

Helen Donaldson
Regional Coordinator
Hunter APANA

Perth Region:
Jeffrey Toll

Perth continues to operate as a small but stable region. Our membership has stabilized at 15 members, 3 of which are users of the shared ECN dialup ports and others are either shell access, DFT(ADSL) or membership only.

Although we have not had a regional meeting for several years, I have kept in contact with many members when they report an occasional fault.

Our server, Odyssey, has operated reliably with only a few minor glitches occurring throughout the year. Currently it hosts Perth member accounts and in addition, hosts email for Brisbane members. Our main link continues to be an ADSL connection supplied by Amnet, which also shares the connection with National server.

Many thanks to Dean Hollister who is sys-admin/deputy regional coordinator for keeping Perth APANA and National equipment up and running and helping out with APANA in general.

Like other regions of APANA, the outlook for gaining new members in Perth, is not good.


No report received.

South Australia Region:
Steve Fraser

This has been a period of many changes for SA. After some uncertainty, the new owners of Elizabeth House decided not to renew our lease, and so we had to find a new home. Fortunately for us, we had removed the need
for all but one of our phone lines when we went to ECN, and had replaced our copper-pair based PAPL link to Internode with an ADSL-based connection. So moving was very much easier than it would have been a year or two earlier. It did however mean the removal of our wireless connection into the "Air-Stream" network.

We moved the equipment to a private home for an interim period, although a CBD business had offered to house it for us. This may still happen.

Having the equipment in a private home emphasised the need for both access by other members and the need for redundancy if the home site had a problem. This was highlighted by two Telstra faults in two months, both of which had significant impact on all regions. We moved the hub to another home temporarily in order to overcome those problems. We have since built a complete redundant "standby" environment to be used in
case of future similar events. This system will provide minimal services if required.

On the membership front, we have lost a few, but have also gained some new web hosting members. So despite the losses, our finances seem quite strong (due mainly to reduced overheads).

The social meetings continue to be well attended by the regular group. Interestingly, although much of the conversation is social, a recent potential member attending the meeting saw us a being strongly technical, and joined up. So it appears we do still have a potential market for technical minded people.

To close, my thanks to all the SA members who have contributed to the operation of the region and supported and encouraged it.

Steve Fraser
SA Region Coordinator.

Sydney Region:

No report received.